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Title: Quality, semantics and the two cultures
Authors: Poole, B. 
Keywords: Higher education
Quality assurance
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2010
Citation: Poole, B. (2010-01-01). Quality, semantics and the two cultures. Quality Assurance in Education 18 (1) : 6-18. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Purpose: The aims of this paper are twofold: first, to engage with the definition of quality as "excellence" and to show why this could be regarded as unhelpful and misleading; and, second, to suggest some factors which contribute to a "cultural divide" between quality assurance specialists in universities and their colleagues who are full-time academics. In both cases the paper seeks to raise and explore these issues because their resolution may suggest ways forward for quality assurance in higher education. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is generally based on consideration and critical evaluation of published work relevant to the two issues mentioned previously. However, other forms of evidence are drawn into the argument. Notably, lexical data from the British National Corpus are examined in order to substantiate points about the semantics of the word "quality". Findings: The paper finds, on the grounds of both lexical semantics and consideration of scholarly literature on quality assurance in higher education, that it is unhelpful to understand the term "quality" as equivalent to "excellence". It also identifies possible reasons why a "cultural divide" exists between university lecturers and quality assurance specialists. Originality/value: The paper should be of interest to both quality assurance specialists and lecturers in universities. It offers logical, language-based reasons why "quality" should not be regarded as "excellence" and goes on to relate this to the notion of "quality enhancement". Preliminary suggestions are also made about means through which the "cultural divide" between academics and quality assurance specialists might be narrowed, to the potential benefit of universities seen as both complex entrepreneurial organizations, and academic communities. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Source Title: Quality Assurance in Education
ISSN: 09684883
DOI: 10.1108/09684881011015963
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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